As your imported food products make their way from overseas production to American homes and restaurants, you likely entrust part of your stateside operation to 3PLs and other food logistics companies. What you may not realize, however, is that many of these providers have capabilities that extend beyond traditional third-party logistics (3PL) services. In this article, we’ll look at the many roles that 3PLs can play in the distribution of your imported food products.
3PL capabilities for imported food products
Once your goods hit the port, many food logistics companies can perform the following services (and more).
Receiving and drayage. Your 3PL can receive your container and deliver it to a nearby warehouse or a destination of your choosing.
Warehousing services. At the warehouse, your 3PL will unload your containers for storage or transloading. The empty containers will be brought back to port quickly so that you avoid detention charges.
Many 3PLs provide food-grade warehousing in a climate-controlled environment where temperature and humidity are monitored 24/7. 3PL food warehousing services also include inventory management with a warehouse management system (WMS) that rotates stock according to FEFO, FIFO and other methods.
Inspection and sampling. Food logistics companies like Kanban that are registered with the FDA will enable FDA representatives to inspect your products at their warehouses. Some 3PLs are also able to provide product samples to your quality control team.
At Kanban Logistics, the way that sampling works is as follows. We have customers with nearby manufacturing plants that have trained our team members on their sample-collecting processes. When containers of these products come in and are unloaded, our team members collect the samples and deliver them to the nearby production facility. Their quality control team then tests to ensure that the product is fit for distribution. If it is, our distribution services will proceed as normal. If it’s not, we can quarantine and/or destroy (with certification) the product lots in question.
By having a food logistics company trained in its sampling methods, the manufacturer can avoid timely steps in sending representatives out to us.
Just in Time (JIT) services. Much like components of machine products can be stored by a 3PL and delivered on an as-needed basis, the same can apply for food products. The following is a Kanban-specific example.
We work with a baked goods manufacturer based here in North Carolina. The manufacturer imports flour in totes and super sacks within containers. We receive these containers and then store the flour in one of our warehouses. Every morning, we then fill a dry bulk trailer with the necessary amount of flour and transport the trailer to the production plant for unloading. The manufacturing operation has all the flour it needs for that day’s production. We have the trailer washed and returned the warehouse so that the process can be repeated the next morning.
Container loading. Just as containers are received from the port and unloaded at a food logistics company facility, they can also be loaded at the same facility and head out to the port.
Turn to Kanban Logistics for food import services
While you can see that the capabilities of many food logistics companies extend beyond what you may consider traditional 3PL services, even those listed here are the tip of the iceberg. Many 3PLs have a wide array of value-added services and just about all of them are completely customizable to your operation’s needs.
Kanban Logistics is one of these companies. Our ISO-certified logistics campuses are located in Eastern North Carolina, offering over 1-million-square-feet of warehousing space near the ports of Norfolk, VA and Wilmington, NC. A substantial amount of this space is food-grade and can be used to support national distribution of your products. To learn more about the many food logistics services that Kanban offers, contact us today.